Creative Ecologies

The Creative Ecologies Pathfinder is a programme of research and experimentation for Bristol+Bath Creative R+D. Across 2021 and 2022, we’ll be exploring creativity as a networked, connected practice, not something that happens in isolation in studios, offices, or labs, we'll be doing this through three main routes: Hopeful Futures Network, Trailblazer Fund and New Scholars.

We think that approaches to the world rooted in creativity and culture are vital for the production of better futures. This work happens not just in businesses or workplaces, but across a network of people and places.

During this pathfinder, we’ll be working with experts from across our region and the world to explore how we can make these networks more resilient, dynamic and inclusive, ensuring they are future-proofed to withstand systematic shocks, and can respond to the pressing emergencies of our time.

Together, we’ll be exploring a range of questions: what can we learn from how creative economies are designed in other parts of the world? How can the models we use to build our businesses or the way we run our cities be developed to make them more sustainable, inclusive, and progressive? How can we ensure that people - not technology - are put at the heart of a better future?

We believe that thinking ecologically about creativity is a key to answering these questions. This involves understanding all the different parts that make creative work possible. These include the companies, people, institutions, places, resources, communications infrastructures, producers, audiences and stakeholders that allow things to happen, as well as the ideas, knowledges, cultures, and languages that are part of that network.

Our creative ecology spreads far beyond industrial sectors and fixed geographies, to encompass whole communities that stretch all over the world. We want to explore how to make this ecology healthy, equitable, and strong, and show how creative and cultural value is everywhere, and vital to our futures.

Hopeful Futures Network

We will draw together experts from across Bristol, Bath, and the world to explore sustainable growth, inclusion, climate emergencies, and responsible innovation through seminars and development labs. We’ll be speaking to activists, artists, technologies, social enterprises, civic bodies, academics and more.

As part of this series, we’re bringing together leading experts, thinkers, and doers from a range of disciplines including futuring, development and economy for an online programme of in-depth public seminars. Please follow the links below to watch back and book:

Imagination as tool of freedom watch it here

Rethinking the structures of the present for a different future watch it here

Enacting the Future Now watch it here

Book for the 14 October, 2-4pm, Relational Power - addressing the conditions needed for change

Book for the 18 November, 2-4pm, Placing collaboration at the heart of climate work

Trailblazer Fund

Closer to home we will be trialling new ways to promote, support, and resource a dynamic, creative future in our local economy.

The Trailblazer Fund will support new or existing ideas related to creative technology from individuals, companies or collaborations that create impact in Bristol or Bath. You can apply for up to £10,000. We will fund ideas that propel your creative and/or business practice forwards.

For more information on the scheme please read the full brief as well as our FAQ’s.

Find out more

Please read the Trailblazer Brief below for full details on the fund, if you'd like to discuss your idea or learn more about the fund, go ahead and book a team surgery.

What have we funded so far?

The fund has been running since March 2021 and it's open for submissions until Spring 2023. So far the Trailblazer fund has awarded 9 individuals and businesses. Check out more from awardees below.

Dark Land Light House VR

Tanuja Amarasuriya & Timothy X Atack (Sleepdogs)

There’s a lighthouse orbiting a Dark Land, in the depths of space. A lone Keeper is tasked with ensuring the beam stays lit, watching out for the many souls on passing interstellar ships; warning them from the edges of the Dark Land.

Trans Inclusion Consultancy

Joanna Órla Bligh

The first of its kind, this pilot project aims to identify, address and find strategies to reduce inclusion barriers for trans* and neurodivergent creatives, who are underrepresented within the creative tech cluster in the South West.


Gareth Osborne

Deep into Earth’s next ice age, stories have become the fuel for life…Storyhaven is a table-top reading and roleplay game for families to play together over three weeks at home, in which children co-create the narrative with their parents and live-streamed immersive theatre sessions with an actor bring their storytelling to life.

Rabbit Holes

Penny Hay, Ian Forrester & James Cook

Rabbit Holes Collective involves a group of artists and creative professionals exploring adaptive podcasting to create unique content and invite (especially young) people to metaphorically ‘fall down a rabbit hole’ to connect more deeply with nature.

While We Are Apart

Free Ice Cream & Play:Disrupt

While We Are Apart will build collaborative and playful tools for the creation and use of hyperlocal geographical maps whilst exploring how such tools might sit within current placemaking practices.

New Scholars

‘New Scholars’ is a fellowship scheme for PhD students and Early Career Researchers, designed to support researchers early in their academic journey to make a step change in their research towards collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and socially engaged practice in and around the field of creativity, technology, and innovation.

The cohort of 16 PhD students/Early Career Researchers are taking part in a twelve-month programme of workshops, skills development, critical exploration, funded research and collaboration. The Fellows benefit from a year of support to help them boost their research ambitions, gain insight into collaborative work, and develop funded research with access to academics and creatives in the sector.


Amy Spencer

Dr Amy Spencer a post-doctoral research assistant and writer. She is currently in the Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries at Bath Spa University, working on the Amplified Publishing strand of Bristol+Bath Creative R+D.

Eleanor Scott

Eleanor Scott is a doctoral researcher within Loughborough University's School of Design and Creative Arts (SDCA), in collaboration with the Business of Fashion Textiles and Technology (BFTT).

Hakan Satiroglu

Hakan Satiroglu is a PhD research student and an Associate Lecturer in Innovation Management at Bath Business School.

Kadian A Gosler

With over 17 years of academic and professional experience in the Intimate Apparel field, PhD candidate Kadian A Gosler has turned her sights to the fields' future in smart lingerie.

Kate Valentine

Kate Valentine is a director working in theatre and audio drama. Her PhD by Creative Practice is 'Dual Carriageway: Live performance and digital storytelling, linking communities along the Great North Road.'

Kit Braybrooke

Dr. Kit Braybrooke🧞‍♀️ [1] is an ethnographer and designer whose work explores intersections of culture, technology and social/ecological justice.

Lauren England

Dr Lauren England is a Baxter Fellow in Creative Economies at the University of Dundee. Her research explores creative ecologies in both Global North and Global South contexts, with a focus on the craft sector.

Marie Stenton

Marie is currently a practice-based PhD researcher at London College of Fashion exploring alternative routes to a circular economy through the potential of regenerated protein fibres for a quality textiles market.

Myles-Jay Linton

Myles is a psychologist and Vice Chancellor’s Fellow (University of Bristol) undertaking research into young peoples’ mental health. His artwork explores the connection between bodies and emotions, and his community work centres the experiences of queer people of colour in Bristol.

Olivia Gable

Dr Olivia Gable is a Policy Analyst at the Work Foundation and an independent researcher with primary interests in cultural work, equality and inclusion and music.

Paris Selinas

Paris Selinas is a trans-disciplinary artist, designer, and social researcher, currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Bristol.

Rob Eagle

As a digital artist, documentary film-maker and practice-based PhD researcher at UWE Bristol, Rob straddles the worlds of arts practice and academia.

Verity McIntosh

Verity is a Senior Lecturer, researcher and creative producer. She leads UWE Bristol’s pioneering master’s course in Virtual and Extended Realities.

Yvonne Ntiamoah

Yvonne is a PhD Researcher in the area of “The process of decolonising the fashion design curriculum in Ghana, and its consequences for global fashion design education”.

Will Barnes

Will Barnes is a Geography PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London interested in the interrelationship of creative work, home life, the COVID-19 lockdown, and wellbeing.